A Blackpool hotelier was left needing a reservoir of cash after opening his water bill – to find a demand for £277,000.
Ben Atkinson, one of the owners of the Bond Hotel in Bond Street, Blackpool, was astonished to see the cost was more than 400 times his usual rate.
My usual bill is something like £650 and this was just so different to that.Ben Atkinson
The South Shore hotel got the shock after United Utilities, currently battling to end the cryotosporidium crisis in Lancashire, made an error in the billing department.
Ben said: “When I saw it I just had to laugh.
“My usual bill is something like £650 and this was just so different to that.
“I knew it must have been an error and I didn’t really think I would have to pay it.
“I tweeted them straight away, which appears to be the best way to get in touch these days, and they got back to me very quickly.
“They said they would be sending out a revised bill so I could not fault them at all.
“It is funny really, with all the other things happening to United Utilities at the moment, they don’t need this too. You couldn’t write it!”
Ben, whose family has run the hotel for more than 11 years said he had never seen anything like it before.
“For a brief moment I thought about paying it just so that I could hold the refund cheque for a quarter of a million in my hand and see what that felt like.
“But I don’t think doing that would have amused my bank.
“The water company has got enough problems at the moment without this so you have to feel for them.”
A United Utilities spokesperson, said today: “This was an administrative error.
“We spoke to the hotel to apologise and let them know we will correct the bill.”
Ben runs the hotel with his wife Karen, his sister Rebecca Chalk and her husband David and his uncle, Graham Atkinson.
The hotel specialises in holidays for disabled people and has special adaptations to help people with low mobility such as lift access to all floors and level access wet floor showers.
It is one of the biggest hotels in the country catering for disabled visitors.
Meanwhile, as United Utilities continued to fend off criticism over the expected length of the boil water alert, frustrated householders were warned they could be in for a long wait.
A scientist has revealed that a smilar case of cryptosporidium contamination a decade ago, which blighted the lives of 28,000 families in North Wales, lasted more than TWO MONTHS over the winter of 2005/6.
Homes were advised to boil their drinking water from November to January before the scare was officially at an end. And the source of the contamination, said Lancaster University microbiologist Dr Derek Gatherer, was never identified.
“It is possible we will be in the same situation,” he said. “It could be they will declare an all-clear, but never find out the source. Unfortunately the story is still no further forward than what it was at the beginning.”
For all our previous coverage on the water contamination situation in Lancashire visit the links below: